ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When Colorado College’s eight seniors take the ice Saturday afternoon, they will be skating for a dream, one current Minnesota coach Don Lucia instilled in them when he helped recruit them to the CC program.
Facing their former coach in the NCAA Tournament is not the first quirk in the Tigers’ 2001-02 season. Colorado College was picked as the WCHA’s preseason favorite, yet began the year with an 0-5-0 league start.
“I thought we could come back. I thought we could make the tournament,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “I did not think we could get one game away from the Frozen Four.”
Owens was an assistant under Lucia for two Frozen Four appearances at Colorado College, and has continued to build on Lucia’s winning ways.
Three years ago, Lucia himself set the stage for Saturday’s match between CC and Minnesota when he went to Minneapolis to rebuild an ailing Gopher program. With the Frozen Four scheduled for St. Paul in 2002, Minnesota wanted a confident, young coach.
At the press conference announcing his hiring at Minnesota, Lucia said, “Never could I envision after eight years of coaching, I could be here as a coach. It’s a dream come true. I talked to the CC players, [and that] was the hardest part.”
Some of those players, now seniors, will try to do something they never could have envisioned four years ago: beat their former coach en route to the Frozen Four.
“It shows what kind of team we are. We have a warrior mentality,” said CC senior forward Trent Clark, who scored the game winning goal against Michigan State Friday. “We’re one game away from the Frozen Four.”
The game should feature a fast pace. Both teams are loaded with quick forwards and each relies on good defense to generate offense out of its own zone. But don’t expect a great deal of scoring.
“They play a similar style to us,” said Clark. “We can adjust. Both teams will concentrate on defense.”
With the Colorado College-Minnesota game determining who will advance to the Frozen Four, one question remains to be answered.
Which of Lucia’s dreams will come true?